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Romans 8:18-25 (NIV)
Present Suffering and Future Glory
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to son ship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
The Lutheran theologian, Gerhard Forde, once wrote: “[In] suffering all theorizing is over. One enters into contention with God”. Forde is pointing out that even our suffering is God’s will. Wait, that can’t be right! But read Romans 8:20 again: “the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it”. Why would God will and subject us to suffering? It is in suffering that we must deal with God. We must turn to God and fight with Him. Each of us becomes Jacob wrestling with God in the night (Gen. 32:22-32). Why? Because we do not want God to be in control. We do not like being merely human. We want to “be like God” (Gen. 3:5). We do not want to receive God’s provision through faith in His love. So, we suffer and “contend” with this God who saves through a cross and forgiveness of sins. We “suffer” death so that we might receive resurrection. This is hope! Hope that God really is loving and merciful. Hope that we are loved.